Springboks Matfield, Coetzee doubtful for All Blacks clash

Springboks Matfield, Coetzee doubtful for All Blacks clash

Johannesburg (AFP) – Acting South Africa captain & lock Victor Matfield & flanker Marcell Coetzee are doubtful for a Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand this weekend, the team doctor said Monday.

Craig Roberts told a media briefing at the Springboks' hotel in a Johannesburg suburb that Matfield has a hamstring strain & Coetzee a knock on the knee.

"Victor & Marcell are doubtful for this weekend, yet neither of them are in doubt for the World Cup," said Roberts.

p>"A call on their availability for the New Zealand match will be made only after this week."

The doctor said tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis & loose forward Schalk Burger picked up knocks during a weekend loss to Australia in Brisbane & they will be assessed at a Tuesday training session.

The Springboks & All Blacks square off Saturday before a sell-out 62,000 Ellis Park crowd in the second round of a southern hemisphere championship shortened to three rounds because the World Cup begins in September.

World title-holders New Zealand started the pursuit of a fourth consecutive Rugby Championship title with a 39-18 home win over Argentina last weekend while South Africa lost 24-20 away to Australia.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer is scheduled to name his starting line-up & eight replacements Wednesday.

Matfield is standing in as skipper while captain & centre Jean de Villiers recovers from knee reconstruction surgery.

De Villiers played 20 minutes of an exhibition match between the Springboks & a World XV in Cape Town two weeks ago — his first appearance since being injured in Wales last November.

He moreover turned out for Western Province last Saturday in a Currie Cup warm-up match & came through unscathed.

"The plan was never for Jean to play against Australia & New Zealand," stressed Meyer.

"Although Victor & Schalk are injured, we are not going to rush him back."

As Meyer grapples with a never-ending injury list, he has added lock Flip van der Merwe to a squad that now numbers 50.

The coach welcomed the alter of heart by the initially unavailable Van der Merwe.

"Flip always puts his body on the line for the Springboks & it will be tremendous to have him back in the fold."

Victor MatfieldSpringboksNew ZealandMarcell CoetzeeSouth AfricaCraig Roberts

Source: “AFP”

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